Middle Eastern Scale: Theory & Ear Training

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Enjoy this delicious-sounding scale from the Middle East…

… yet another example proving that scales are not made of “half-steps” and “whole-steps”.

Theory

Here, for example, are the notes in the C Middle Eastern Scale identified by letter name, scale degree, and Solfege syllable…

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  1. The scale structure of the Middle Eastern Scale is always 1-b2-3-4-5-b6-7-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Middle Eastern Scale are always Do-Ra-Mi-Fa-So-Le-Ti-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

Play and sing the Middle Eastern Scale and Major Scale side-by-side…

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and notice the dramatic effect created by changing two notes: Ra instead of Re and Le instead of La. Notice how these unique tensions allow you to create a whole new kind of music, a very exotic sound that is instantly recognizable!

The Middle Eastern Scale in Action

Hava Nagila

Solfege Ear Training

Let’s take a moment to talk about how to get the most benefit from the Solfege ear training studies below…

  1. Singing the Solfege syllables out loud is the most effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in any musical scale. Why? Because singing out loud requires you to actively process the sounds at a much deeper level than merely passively listening.
  2. It is absolutely essential that you go slowly enough to allow the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable to make a meaningful impression on your mind’s ear.
  3. This is not interval training. It’s okay if you hear the intervals between successive notes, but your goal is to hear and feel the unique character of each Solfege syllable with respect to the key center DO and to each other.
  4. Solfege ear training generalizes to any key. In other words, if you can hear and feel the unique harmonic pull of Ti towards Do in the key of C, you will be able to hear and feel the unique harmonic pull of Ti towards Do in any key!
  5. At first, it’s quite alright to play each note on your instrument before you sing, but I promise you this: If you do these studies as described above, you will quickly internalize the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable in you mind’s ear without help from your instrument.
  6. In summary… Sing out loud, take your time, and fight for every note. If you do, you will enjoy musical dividends for a lifetime, guaranteed!

C Middle Eastern Scale: Linear, Ascending…

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C Middle Eastern Scale: Linear, Descending…

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C Middle Eastern Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…

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C Middle Eastern Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…

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learn more… Japanese Scale: Theory & Ear Training